The sacred cantatas of J.S. Bach

Discussion in 'Classical Music' started by tones, Jun 19, 2003.

  1. tones

    sunnyside_up

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    I was lucky enough to see the New London Consort directed by Philip Pickett the other night (on a rare visit to Perth for the International Arts Festival). They performed Cantata BWV 66 and the Easter Oratorio, and were absolutely wonderful. I was moved and awed by the beautiful violin playing of Penelope Spencer and Mark Bennett's trumpet. Both these players also featured in JEG's pilgrimage. The singers were out of this world too, especially Christopher Robson, the counter-tenor.

    I'm still on a high from this fabulous concert. To make things even better, I met another lady who was on her own during the interval and she invited me to sit next to her where there had been a spare seat. It was first row in the lower gallery and we had the best view!!

    I'm still loving the Gardiner CDs, but was slightly disappointed with the Brandenburg Concerto. Tones, I have to agree with you about BWV71 Gott ist mein König - I had previously only heard it performed by Suzuki (whom I usually love in the earlier cantatas) and it never really grabbed me, but Gardiner does it beautifully.
     
    sunnyside_up, Feb 21, 2008
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  2. tones

    tones compulsive cantater

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    If you enjoyed Philip Pickett, SSU, this is the disc to have:

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Praetorius-Dances-Terpsichore-Michael/dp/B000004CXG

    It varies from stately gavottes to wild and woolly things that I guess were the Renaissance equivalent of heavy metal. And the sounds - oh, the sounds! Buzzes, crackles, hoots, parps, snarls - you've never heard anything like it. (Praetorius wrote a treatise on the instruments and their performance, with illustrations so accurate that the instruments could be reconstructed, even when no originals existed). I'll bet Pickett and co. had a ball when making it.
     
    tones, Feb 22, 2008
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  3. tones

    sunnyside_up

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    Sounds like one for my wish list, tones!

    I have a lovely CD of Dances from Terpsichore on Naxos which never fails to cheer me up.

    :)
     
    sunnyside_up, Feb 26, 2008
  4. tones

    pe-zulu

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    The Terpsichore/Pickett and the Swedish Terpsichore recording on Naxos (Westra Aros Pipare) are both very enjoyable, and even if there is some overlapping as to the selected works, this just adds to the kaleidoscopic character of the music. Enjoyable too is Pickett's selection (L'Oiseau Lyre) of Susato`s "Het derde musyck boexken" , which precedes Terpsichore by about 50 years.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 26, 2008
    pe-zulu, Feb 26, 2008
  5. tones

    pe-zulu

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    Regarding the fact that almost all period musicians of distinction have recorded the Brandenburgs, I always wondered, why Gardiner hasn't recorded them. Maybe he will some day.
     
    pe-zulu, Feb 26, 2008
  6. tones

    tones compulsive cantater

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    I don't think anyone has ever recorded them all - the total Terpsichore collection is over 300, if I recall correctly. But thank you for those tips, Pe-zulu, I'll look out for them, because I do enjoy that stuff.
     
    tones, Feb 27, 2008
  7. tones

    tones compulsive cantater

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    You'd think he would, wouldn't you? After all, he did good versions of the Handel Water Music/Royal Fireworks Music some time ago (for Erato, I think). Perhaps now that he has his own record label, he will - and of course there are the Handel Concerti Grossi, which are great music.
     
    tones, Feb 27, 2008
  8. tones

    tones compulsive cantater

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    I finally managed to find some time to listen to Gardiner's latest offering:

    http://www.monteverdiproductions.co.uk/recordings/forthcoming.cfm

    None of the famous cantatas here, but, as usual, all beautifully done. Bach and Beethoven are very different stylistically, but to me both have one thing in common - a feeling of, for want of a better word, solidity, of music that's carved from solid, that knows where it's going and how to get there.

    This issue also includes a nice motet by J.C. Bach, a predecessor of J.S. (the family of musicians was so extended that, in some parts of North-Eastern Germany, "bach" became the slang name for a musician).
     
    tones, May 5, 2008
  9. tones

    tones compulsive cantater

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    [​IMG]

    Although I decided in the end to go for the Gardiner set (a decision I don't regret), it was a close thing, and I still indulge in the occasional Suzuki, whose performances are also outstanding.

    I was prompted to buy this one by the presence of a favourite, BWV 82 "Ich habe genug", and it gets a nice performance here. The others are less well known (to me anyway), but were excellent. When BWV 52 started, I jumped up because they'd clearly put the wrong disc in the box. But no, the opening sinfonia is indeed identical to the opening movement of Brandenburg Concerto No.1.

    Aha, if only I had enough money and enough time to listen, I'd have this cycle too...
     
    tones, May 11, 2008
  10. tones

    Marc

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    The last cantata on this disc, BWV 58 Ach Gott, wie manches Herzeleid, was one of the first cantatas I got on LP. Long time ago I bought the Trauer-Ode, BWV 198, conducted by Michel Corboz, with this cantata as 'add-on'.
    I immediately got caught by the aria "Ich bin vergnügt in meinem Leiden", sung by soprano Christiane Baumann.
    And now I'm getting seduced again, this time by Carolyn Sampson. When she sings "denn Gott ist meine Zuversicht" I know that I can peacefully go to bed again tonight. She certainly is my favourite ancient soprano ;) of today!
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 25, 2008
    Marc, May 25, 2008
  11. tones

    tones compulsive cantater

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    According to a recent Monteverdi newsletter, it's going to happen - Gardiner will do the Brandenburgs in early 2009.
     
    tones, Oct 15, 2008
  12. tones

    Ascherjim

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    New to Thread

    Greetings: I have just come across and joined this thread to be able to access (and possibly comment on) some of the received wisdom contained here since 2003(!) on these Bach cantatas. I am pleased to see that the thread is still somewhat active after all this time.

    While I have been collecting and listening to various LP and later CD recordings of these magnificent works, it is only fairly recently that I've become aware of how many new performances are becoming available (as well as re-issuances of earlier recordings). I myself have a number of the MHS LP's of Werner's recordings, and only learned from this thread that they're now available on CD (which I'm contemplating purchasing). But perhaps more importantly, I've also learned of the relatively inexpensive availability of the Leusink recordings. So inexpensive, in fact, that I've just ordered the complete set here in the U.S. at the unbelievable(?) price of $80.

    The Leusink recordings for me will obviously not be a starting point in the canon, but really (as with others in this thread) as both a fill-in for cantatas I don't yet have as well as some duplication of some I do have. As I like listening to the cantatas both in period-instrument and -technique versions as well as modern-instrument versions (Suzuki/Koopma/Gardiner/Herreweghe, etc., vis a vis Richter/Rilling/Rotzsch, etc.), I have been for some time in the process of assembling at least one period and modern version each of most of them. Through this thread I have also been made aware of the new issues coming from Gardiner's own label. I had, of course, many of Gardiner's recordings issued prior to his 2000 tour, but hadn't any from that tour. Now, I've ordered some and am looking forward to their receipt.

    I will close this posting now just to comment that all of my Bach (and other classical music) listening is via a fairly high-end headphone set-up. No external speakers. (I'm a great follower of and participant in the Head-Fi forum.)

    Regards to all, Jim
     
    Ascherjim, Oct 28, 2008
  13. tones

    tones compulsive cantater

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    Welcome aboard, Jim! Always nice to meet a new cantater! I am usually the guilty party, commenting on the Gardiner cantatas as they appear (another volume in the works).

    At the price, Leusink is a must. You'll find the performances uneven (he did them at a breakneck speed that nearly equals Gardiner), and although his versions often lack the polish of the competition, there's that nice feeling of the joy of music-making - and moreover, some of the performances are darn good! One of the few things I have against the set is the omission of certain cantatas, which are among the best. For example, there's no BWV11 Lobet Gott in seinem Reichen (the "Ascension Oratorio"), largely because this is often considered a separate choral piece, like the Magnificat, and therefore not a cantata, despite the BWV number. Another is the gorgeous New Year cantata BWV190, because only the vocal parts of the first two movements survive.

    I started my cantating with Werner back in the 1970s, and have many of the LPs. His BWV140 is still hard to beat, ditto his BWV90, with The Mighty André on trumpet. Unfortunately, some of the CD transfers by Erato weren't that brilliant.

    Anyway, we look forward to your thoughts and opinions.
     
    tones, Oct 29, 2008
  14. tones

    Ascherjim

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    Tones: Thanks for your reply. Good to see you're still there. Regarding Werner, until I receive the Leusink set, the only version of cantata BWV 32 I currently have is Werner's LP version, which I cherish. If you have a chance and do have the Werners on CD (which I assume you do) will you check out that one on CD and let me know how well it's been technically converted. Many thanks and regards, Jim
     
    Ascherjim, Oct 29, 2008
  15. tones

    tones compulsive cantater

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    BWV32 or 31, Jim? I can't remember 32, but that may be increasing antiquity. I have Werner's BWV31, Der Himmel lacht, die Erde jubiliert, written for Easter Sunday, on LP, and it's marvellous, especially with that last chorale, with Maurice André playing that gorgeous trumpet obbligato with a beauty and clarity of tone of which natural trumpeters could only dream. I have no CD. I believe that the Erato series Les grandes cantates de J.S. Bach were released in two disc sets. Whether all were released I have no idea.

    P.S. B'gosh, you're right, BWV32 is indeed there:

    http://www.amazon.com/Bach-J-S-Cant...=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&s=music&qid=1225295882&sr=1-4

    P.P.S. Jim, these are a whole lot cheaper in Germany:

    http://www.amazon.de/Kantaten-Vol-1/dp/B0002JNLOQ/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=music&qid=1225296447&sr=1-1

    and cheaper again if I order them from Switzerland (the 19% German value-added tax is taken off). If you'd like me to order these for you, PM me and I'd be happy to oblige.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 29, 2008
    tones, Oct 29, 2008
  16. tones

    Ascherjim

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    Tones: I only have BWV 31 in a version by Rotzsch, which I'll now have to listen to anew. Sorry to hear that you don't have the two Werner 10-disk-sets on CD. Amazon Marketplace has them for $35 each, half the list price. I know I'll have to get them sometime in the future. Regards, Jim P.S. Thanks for the offer. These edited postings have obviously crossed each other. As I indicated, I'll probably order my sets from Amazon Marketplace.
     
    Ascherjim, Oct 29, 2008
  17. tones

    pe-zulu

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    Thanks for the information, Tony. I knew, he would record them, sooner or later.
     
    pe-zulu, Oct 29, 2008
  18. tones

    pe-zulu

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    Actually Leusink has recorded BWV 11. You will find the recording in the Brilliant complete Bach box or - do I think - in the smaller box along with the Passions, h-minor Mass, Christmas Oratoirium et.c.

    Regards,
     
    pe-zulu, Oct 29, 2008
  19. tones

    Marc

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    Jim, welcome!

    Yes, this Classical Music Section is more like a Bach Section. But I don't mind (I guess). :)
    Hope you like the Leusink. I must admit I don't. But I'll find always something to moan about. :D

    About the headphones: be careful with your ears, OK?
     
    Marc, Oct 29, 2008
  20. tones

    Ascherjim

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    What I'm looking for in the Leusink performances (which I haven't yet heard, but have been led to believe) is something of an enthusiastic amateur quality, to counter-balance in my listening the obvious professionalism inherent in other versions (both period and modern). While I enjoy Gardiner, his performances for me do verge occasionally on the too polished side. I find I have need for different kinds of cantata performances at "different times of the day."

    On the headphone caution, my hearing was somewhat damaged years ago, hence my use of headphones to compensate. Speakers no longer do it for me.
     
    Ascherjim, Oct 29, 2008
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